Tens of thousands of Venezuelans march against Maduro

2017-04-19 20:43
A man walks past a motorbike set on fire by protesters during an opposition march in Caracas, Venezuela. (Fernando Llano, AP)

A man walks past a motorbike set on fire by protesters during an opposition march in Caracas, Venezuela. (Fernando Llano, AP)

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Caracas - Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded the streets of Caracas on Wednesday for what they've dubbed the "mother of all marches" against the embattled socialist leader.

Clashes between protesters, police and government supporters started early. Shortly after the march kicked off, state security forces fired tear gas at some pockets of protesters. Opposition leaders also said a young man was shot in the head and rushed to the hospital. His condition was unclear.

Tens of thousands of protesters converged from 26 different points spread across the capital to attempt to march downtown to the Ombudsman's office. It's a route tens of thousands of angry protesters have attempted a half-dozen times in the past few weeks only to find their progress blocked by light-armored vehicles and a curtain of tear gas and rubber bullets fired by riot police officers.

At least five deaths have been blamed on the strong-armed response to protests that were triggered by the government-stacked Supreme Court's decision three weeks ago to strip the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers after a year-long power battle.

That move was later reversed amid overwhelming international rebuke and even a rare instance of public dissent in the normally disciplined ruling elite. But it had the added effect of energising Venezuela's fractious opposition, which had been struggling to channel growing disgust with Maduro over widespread food shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime.

With its momentum renewed, the opposition is now pushing for Maduro's removal and the release of scores of political prisoners.

The government last year abruptly postponed regional elections the opposition was heavily favoured to win and cut off a petition drive to force a referendum seeking Maduro's removal before elections late next year.

Read more on:    venezuela

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